Ignatius Loyola {{huLoyolai Szent Ignác}}Image via Wikipedia

I have written before about some different aspects of Ignatian Spirituality.

Here is a quick resume:

Ignatian spirituality is the spirituality of the Jesuits - it was Ignatius of Loyola and nine of his companions who founded the Jesuit order (The Society of Jesus) in 1540. Today, many people - not all in the Roman Catholic church and not all belonging to the Society of Jesus (well, you can't if you're a woman!) - use Ignatian spirituality to enhance their own walk with God.

I have written about two different aspects of Ignatian prayer:
The Examen
Using our imagination in prayer

I'd like to explore more about Ignatian spirituality with you.

When Ignatius was developing his way of Christian living and Christian prayer, he devised a series of spiritual prayer exercises designed to draw those who use them more closely to God and to increase understanding of how to serve God and follow God's guiding. As part of this, he established what he called the First Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises.

This is how it was described to me by my spiritual director at that time - with a few modifications(!):

We are created to praise, reverence and serve God.
All other things on the face of the earth are created to help us to fulfil this purpose.
It follows that we are to use all other things in as much as they help us fulfil our purpose and we ought to refrain from using these things insofar as they are a hindrance.

Therefore, with respect to all things in which we have some influence or control, it is necessary to become indifferent (not the 21st century definition of indifferent but meaning - free, detached). Consequently, for our part, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, a long life to a short one, status to rejection; and so for all other things.

Our constant desire and our consequent choices should always be harmonious with the goal for which we are created.

Easier said than done, of course, but a good principle for leading a life which is God-centred and Spirit-motivated.

My own preference would be to have the word 'love' in the first line. For me, wanting to reverence and serve God spring from my love for God.

Any thoughts on the First Princple?


  1. Denise  

    17 August 2009 at 20:33

    Indifference as a form of freedom takes more than a little practice, which I suppose makes having a spiritual director helpful.

    The other part that stands out regarding the First Principle is that our choices should be "harmonious with the goal for which we are created." It's sad how often we humans fall down on that count.

  2. Kath Williamson  

    17 August 2009 at 23:15

    Yes, Denise - and it's easy to confuse that freedom with a lack of engagement. But in actual fact, when we are "indifferent" in the Ignatian sense then we are much more freed up to respond to others and to engage deeply with them.

    Thank you for your contribution.